Robert Doggart was sentenced Wednesday to serve almost 20 years in federal prison for plotting to kill members of an Islamic community in New York.
Judge Curtis Collier set the sentence for the 66-year-old Sequatchie County man after a day-long hearing. He got 120 months on one count and 115 months on a second count.
His attorney, Leslie Cory, said Doggart never would have actually carried out the plot, but liked to shock people due to a personality disorder and mental issues. She said he i "by and large truly a wonderful person."
Prosecutor Perry Piper said Doggart may have lived an exemplary life for 64 years, "but when he went off the rails he went off hard."
The judge heard from the sister and daughter of Doggart as well as two work associates. All said he was non-violent and often helped others. His sister, Anita, said, "There is no possible way he would have followed through with this." She said he has "a tendency to embellish and exaggerate."
Daughter Terri Lee said he is "a giving man with a generous spirit" who held no animosity toward anyone."
She said, "He taught us to embrace those who were different from us."
Fellow TVA worker Ed Seay said Doggart told him that he met a black lady on a dating service and took her to his daughter's wedding shortly after he and his wife divorced.
The judge also heard from a representative of the small community of Islamburg at Hancock, N.Y. The courtroom was filled with Islamburg residents.
Attorney Cory said she believes that Doggart got in with a different crowd when he ran for Congress. She said he began talking about militia movements and believe there were terrorists at Islamburg.
She said he has a severe heart condition and bad shoulder. Prosecutor Piper said he should be able to get excellent medical treatment in prison.
Doggart has been held at the jail in DeKalb County, Ala.
Doggart got a 12-point enhancement to the sentence due to terroristic activities.
Attorney Cory noted that under the original plea agreement worked out with the government that he would have been in the sentencing range of 12 to 18 months or, at worst, 18-24 months. Judge Collier rejected that agreement.
Prosecutor Piper said the residents of Islamburg "were threatened, intimidated and horrified by his threats." He said members of the group had been at every court hearing, traveling all the way from the Catskill Mountains.
Doggart addressed the court, saying he is not a violent person and has no animus against any race or religion. He acknowledge that he committed "a serious error."
He said of Islam, "There has never been a time that I hated or been afraid of it."
Doggart said he was targeted by the government and said the jury acted too quickly.
He turned to the residents of Islamburg and said, "To the members of Islamberg, I am sorry. Please forgive me."
Judge Collier said Doggart was not a "monster," but said he did not feel comfortable trusting him if he did not trust the justice system. He said the jury took a longer time than usual in reaching verdicts.
The judge said, "You were guilty and charged with a crime against the United States of America. A strict sentence is appropriate for this situation."
He added, "The allocution that you gave. It gave me more concern about you than anything I've heard on tape."